One of the real pleasures of being out in the garden is the profusion of wild creatures one can see closeup. From hoverflies to hedgehogs, bats to beetles, gardens are an important habitat for many species of wildlife.
For the best results, however, why not take some time to make your garden just a little bit more “wildlife friendly” by turning at least a small patch into a “nature garden”. It needn’t be as hard as you may think, so in this article I’d like to discuss just a few simple ways you can turn your plot into a nature garden.
Water is essential for many animals either to drink or to breed in and so providing water in your garden will go a long way to attractive wildlife. Frogs, newts and toads will breed in ponds, as will a wide variety of invertebrates. Bats may hunt over ponds and some birds may drink from them or bathe in them.
Obviously the bigger the pond is, the better but really anything is better than nothing. Pond liners are cheap to buy and easy to fit and it can be tremendously exciting to watch your pond flourish.
A couple of points worth making on the subject of ponds. Firstly, try to avoid putting fish into your pond which may well eat smaller creatures and also try to ensure that there is easy access in and out of the pond. Young frogs, for example, will need to be able to climb out and hedgehogs have been known to drown in ponds where there wasn’t an easy exit route. Lastly planting dense foliage around your pond will provide cover making wildlife feel more at home.
But it’s not just ponds that are beneficial for wildlife. In addition, consider adding a bird bath to your garden to give garden birds somewhere above ground to drink and bathe where they will feel far safer.
2) Nectar Plants
When you consider the food chain, insects are important not only to pollinate plants but also as a source of food for a wide range of other creatures. Planting flowering plants such as red valerian, nicotiana and buddleia will help to attract butterflies, moths and a host of other invertebrates into your garden.
3) Larval Food Plants
Just as important as nectar plants are larval food plants. Many British wild plant species such as wild violet, native grasses and nettles are used by a range of different butterflies and moths as a food plant. So why not leave a little area to “go wild” and so provide food for caterpillars in your nature garden?
4) Varied Species
It’s as true in your garden as it is in nature; the more plant species you have the wider the range of animals that your garden can support. So don’t just have a “monoculture” of grass but add a range of different flowering plants, shrubs and trees to attract as many different species as possible.
5) Hiding Places
Wildlife is constantly on the look out for predators and so any way you can provide them a haven will be welcomed. We’ve mentioned planting trees and shrubs but also planting a hedgerow of native plants around your garden helps to provide places for wildlife to hide.
Old piles of logs or dead leaves are also excellent habitats and require minimal effort yet can provide homes for breeding grass snakes, hedgehogs, small mammals like wood mice and more.
6) Nest Boxes
Lastly consider adding some nest boxes to your garden. As habitat loss continues to increase there are fewer and fewer nesting sites (and roosting sites) for British wildlife. Of course you’ve seen standard nest boxes for small song birds like blue tits but don’t also forget artificial nests for swallow and house martins, bat boxes and even the boxes now available to attract bumble bees, ladybirds and the like.